Watch Your Windows 10 Settings

A problem with the semiannual content packs is settings changes

The semiannual updates to Windows 10 have good points and bad points. They tend to come with new features, which depending on your interests can be a very good thing. They also come with problems, and I am not talking about the bugs which come standard in any new software.

The biggest problem I have with the updates is that settings are changed. I initially had problems with Bluetooth on my computer. Windows was turning the device off and forgetting about it. In diagnosing a problem, I discovered that my motherboard, targeted at all operating systems and not just Windows, wasn’t compatible with Fast Startup in the configuration I was forced to use. (The Windows focused mode didn’t like the SSD I was using). To avoid issues with improper shutdowns, I turned fast startup off. During my debugging I did a manual Windows Update in case the problem had been fixed in the update. It triggered that Spring’s Creators Update. After it installed, the error messages were back. The update, without any notification, had turned fast startup back on.

As a result of this, I looked through the various settings I have customized on my computer. This Spring’s problem was with the lock screen. While some of these changes are deliberate, other changes appear to be random. The important point is, while enjoying any new features you like, make sure that your settings have not been changed before they cause problems.

Bluetooth Frustrations with Windows 10

Not our usual fare, but computer issues are a problem everyone faces.

I was recently forced to rebuild my computer due to a leaky liquid cooler (for the CPU). The new processor required a new motherboard, and since the copy of Windows 8 I was using was tied to the motherboard, I was forced to upgrade to Windows 10 as well. One of the features of the new motherboard was a built in Bluetooth transmitter. Things appeared to be working just fine for the first couple of days. The next day I attempted to use a Bluetooth game controller that I had been using the day before. It refused to connect.

This is what it should look like

I quickly discovered that as far as Windows was concerned my computer did not even have a Bluetooth transmitter. The icon was missing from the notification area of the taskbar. I continued on to Device Manager. It had entries for the Bluetooth transmitter, but claimed that the device was missing.

This led to multiple online searches for problems with Bluetooth and Windows. I discovered that several of the major Windows 10 updates caused a rash of Bluetooth issues. It did not help that the newest update (the Creator’s Update) was just starting to release and some of the troubleshooting information was targeted at that version. The suggested fixes included new drivers, older drivers, checking to see if there really is a Bluetooth transmitter, and making sure the correct services are running. None of these potential solutions worked.

After a couple of days struggling with this problem, I discovered two things. First, my computer had issues with Windows’ fast startup. Secondly, if I unplugged my computer after turning it off, Windows would find the Bluetooth transmitter when I started the computer again. Unfortunately, it would again disappear a few hours later. In the end, I found the solution to the problem on ASUS’s Republic of Gamers Forum (the motherboard manufacturer). A member of that forum, bowman9991, suggested turning off the option that allows Windows to power down the Bluetooth device to save power. This reminded me of a different problem I ran into some years ago when Windows powered down my computer’s hard drive. Several programs would promptly crash to desktop the next time they tried to access the drive. As a result I tried this solution immediately.

This screen is obtained by going to Device Manager (available in the menu produced by right clicking the start button in Windows 10), and then right clicking the Bluetooth device and selecting properties.

This was the solution to my problem. After changing this option, the Bluetooth transmitter has worked flawlessly.

I can only guess that there is some sort of incompatibility between Windows’ power saving programming and the Bluetooth transmitter (or its driver). Unplugging the computer can sometimes clear volatile memory on the computer that is preserved on a normal shutdown, and this apparently includes the power status of the Bluetooth transmitter. I will have to watch for major updates to Windows in the future. They have a habit of reverting settings to their default value. I ended up receiving the Creators Update in the middle of this process and it turned Fast Startup back on.

I cannot guarantee that this will work for you, but it would be worth trying if you are having problems with your Bluetooth transmitter disappearing. It would probably be worth checking whenever there is an issue with a device on your computer. My question is, how many perfectly good motherboards (or other hardware) have been returned or replaced as a result of this power management setting?

Eclipse Photos

Our Favorite 2 Pictures

We were pleased with the performance of our long box pinhole viewer. It looked a bit better in person than in this photo from my cellphone’s camera. This photo was taken near the peak for our location (~90%).

While it never got dark here, things did look just a bit, wrong. The light level was closer to early evening, but the sun was high in the sky and the shadows were short and crisp. It was easiest to see when you went out from inside. It simply wasn’t as bright as it should have been. We tried to capture this in a photo, but our cameras were not cooperating with us. Finally, I tried one last time in the middle of the afternoon, and the camera demanded that I raise the flash.

Look at the 1/8 second exposure it wants to use.

One of the most impressive changes we noticed was that it felt a bit cooler during the eclipse. A fact that was confirmed by the weather station (Davis Vantage VUE) that we have in the backyard. From the measurements it took, there was a temperature drop of about 8 degrees during the eclipse.

The birds didn’t seem worried.

Solar Eclipse Pinhole Viewer

The eclipse is not total here, but it is still worth looking at

The August 21 Solar Eclipse is not going to be total where we live, but it should reach about 90%. As a result, we decided to construct a pinhole viewer to watch the eclipse because even 90% should be fairly impressive.This shoebox was our first attempt. We attached a white notecard on one end of the box and cut an about 1 inch square hole on the other end. We covered this with a small piece of aluminum foil (not seen here), and then we used a pin to make a very small hole in it.We went with this much longer box (about 3 ft) because we were dissatisfied with the small size of the image produced by the shoebox. The longer length helped produce a larger image, one that seemed big enough to be useful. We added a small hole near the bottom (only cutting 3 of the 4 sides so it acts like a door) to view the image produced.We are looking forward to the eclipse on Monday. Since it won’t be total here, it can’t be ruined by a single small cloud at just the wrong time. We hope that everyone trying to view the eclipse has clear skies for their attempt.

The Worried Bird

We spotted this young cardinal and snapped a photo one summer. It is not long out of the nest and has found itself in a world suddenly larger and more challenging than anything it has known. It looks like it is wondering where its next seed is coming from. Dad will feed it for about two weeks while Mom is probably off sitting on a new nest full of eggs. Soon it will be responsible for finding food and cracking sunflower seeds all by itself.

The world is always changing, full of challenges and opportunities for all of us. Time and practice will teach the young bird how to use its wings to find what it needs. Its beak is capable and very strong, able to easily crack open seeds that are more of a challenge to other birds. Like the cardinal, we need to be ready to look for the opportunities that changes and challenges bring to us. As for where the bird’s next seed is coming from…there is a feeder full of sunflower seeds about two feet away.